2017 has not gone according to plan as Milos Raonic would have wanted it to have panned out. Nevertheless, the former world number three returns to the lawns of Wimbledon, where he became the second Canadian after Eugenie Bouchard to reach a Grand Slam singles final at SW19. Unfortunately, he was unable to defeat Andy Murray to claim his first Slam title but the big-server is a dangerous threat on grass and will be looking to mount another title charge.
Notable results to date
The current world number seven began his 2017 ATP World Tour campaign in Brisbane, where he was the defending champion. He defeated Diego Schwartzman in his first match of the new season, and he managed to defeat former world number one Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. The 10-time French Open champion had former French Open champion Carlos Moya part of his coaching team, who used to be a member of Raonic's camp. The 26-year-old was unable to back up his victory over Nadal in the quarterfinals as he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals. Raonic had a good start to the year in Brisbane, and his quest for a first Slam title continued at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Canadian had a tricky start to his Australian Open campaign as he was up against Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller, who can serve well. Nevertheless, he won those matches in straight sets, and he advanced to his third successive quarterfinal in Melbourne after defeating Gilles Simon and Roberto Bautista Agut in the third and fourth rounds respectively. He was unable to defeat Nadal again as the Spaniard avenged his loss to the Canadian in Brisbane with a comprehensive straight sets victory.
Shortly after the Australian Open concluded, Raonic travelled to North America to compete in Delray Beach. He advanced to his first final of the year as he defeated the former champion, and 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. Unfortunately, last year's Wimbledon runner-up was unable to compete in the final against Jack Sock due to a right hamstring tear. The injury ruled him out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, but he returned to action at the Miami Open, which proved to be a bad decision. He was still injured after he defeated Viktor Troicki, and he had to withdraw from the second Masters 1000 event of the year ahead of his third round clash with the USA's Jared Donaldson.
The Monte Carlo Masters came too soon for Raonic as he was still not fully healed from his injury but he did return at the Istanbul Open. He advanced to his second final of the year after he dispatched Aljaz Bedene, Bernard Tomic and Viktor Troicki to reach the final. He was up against fellow top ten player in Marin Cilic but he lost to the 2014 US Open champion in the final. The Canadian participated at the Mutua Madrid Open, and he defeated Muller for the second time this year but he was unable to defeat an in-form David Goffin in the third round, who defeated Djokovic in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo. Nonetheless, he competed in Rome at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, his last warm-up event ahead of Roland Garros. He defeated Tommy Haas and Tomas Berdych to make the quarterfinals but he ultimately lost to the eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.
At the French Open, Raonic was seeded fifth and he defeated Steve Darcis in the first round in straight sets, but he needed to recover from a set down to defeat Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva in four sets. He had an easy passage into the fourth round as Guillermo Garcia Lopez retired at the conclusion of the first set due to injury. For the second successive year, Raonic's French Open campaign came to an end at the hands of Spaniard. This time it was Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated Raonic in a five-set thriller. It would have been a bitterly disappointing loss for Raonic as Carreno Busta was unable to carry on his good form against Nadal in the quarterfinals, and retired due to injury, which is also keeping him out of Wimbledon.
Grass results leading up to Wimbledon
Last year's Wimbledon finalist would have been pleased to have returned to grass courts, where he is a dangerous player. He advanced to back-to-back finals at the Queen's Club and at Wimbledon last year but lost to Andy Murray in both finals. Nevertheless, this year he began his preparations for this year's Wimbledon at the Queen's Club, and he suffered a shocking first round loss at the hands of Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was the theme of the tournament as Murray and Stan Wawrinka who were the top three seeds collectively all lost their respective first-round clashes.
Best Wimbledon result
At last year's Wimbledon Championships at SW19, the Canadian was seeded sixth and he was a dangerous threat on the grass courts. He defeated Carreno Busta, Andreas Seppi and Jack Sock to reach the fourth round once again at Wimbledon. However, it looked as though that Raonic's Wimbledon was set to be over as he trailed David Goffin by two sets to love but somehow he found a way to win the match, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, and reach his second Wimbledon quarterfinal in three years.
In the quarterfinals, Raonic would have been expecting to face Novak Djokovic but he played Djokovic's conqueror Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals. It was a good opportunity for both players to make the semifinals, and the Canadian seized on the opportunity by coming out on top in the all-North American affair in four sets. In his second Wimbledon semifinal in three years, Raonic was up against Roger Federer, who beat Raonic in the semifinals back in 2014. Nonetheless, the Canadian gained his revenge by defeating Federer, 3-6, 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam final. He was unable to play some of the big points well in the final as he lost to Andy Murray, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).
The big-serving Canadian has never lost in the first round of Wimbledon and he lost in the third round in his first three visits from 2011-2013. In 2014, Raonic advanced to his first Slam semifinal at the age of 23, and he didn't drop a set in his opening three matches. He defeated Kei Nishikori in four sets to reach the last eight, in the quarterfinals he recovered from a set down to defeat Nadal's conqueror Nick Kyrgios in four sets but he was unable to outplay Federer in the semifinals.
How Raonic's game translates to grass
Last year's Wimbledon runner-up thrives on grass as the big serves, and booming forehands work to perfection on this surface. Over the years, the grass courts at Wimbledon have begun to play like hard courts, and have become quicker in recent years. Moreover, the Canadian's movement can sometimes work against him but the points are short on grass which is essential for someone like Raonic who's movement would be exploited.
The world number seven has a lot of soul searching to do ahead of Wimbledon, and at 26 years of age, time is still on his side to achieve his goals of winning at Slam before with the resurgent form of Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, along with Murray and Djokovic who know how to perform well on this surface, it may be a tall order for Raonic.